Pretend you're on the radio with Vobok, the Vine-ish social network for broadcasters

There's an art to producing the perfect six-second Vine or 140-character tweet. The constraints force you to be a creative editor. Now Vobok, a new free iOS and Android app, poses the same challenge for sound bites--you have 30 seconds of recording time, so make them count.

Vobok is a social network in the same vein as Vine. You can use your Twitter or Facebook log-ins to sign up, or create a Vobok-only account. You can share your recordings, which the company calls Voboks--definitely not as catchy as "vines" or "tweets"--on Facebook and Twitter, or you can post them exclusively to your Vobok feed. As is the norm for social networks now, you can find friends by pulling contacts from Facebook.

Vobok is brand new, so obviously most of your friends aren't using it yet. But it could very well be the next Vine. Musicians could use the app to post snippets from their new albums; politicians could highlight sound bites from speeches. And for both public figures and next-door neighbors who can't help but climb on their soapbox to rant about the hot-button issues of the day, at least Vobok offers a short-and-sweet (or just short) outlet. You can post photos with each clip to round out the experience.

From my perspective as a reporter, Voboks offer intriguing possibilities of new ways to tell stories, like posting a 30-second clip of a high-profile interview before the story is published or recordings of eyewitnesses on the ground at the scene of a breaking news event (the bombings at last month's Boston Marathon just as the most recent example).

Every new social network hits the ground running by trying to appeal to businesses off the bat, and Vobok is no different. The company claims that Voboks can be broadcast "just like radio ads, but free." Not that brand-sponsored Voboks will be auto-played within the app (or, at least, we hope that doesn't happen), but that the 30-second clips can be cross-posted on social media accounts and reach mobile users.

Companies will have to be careful of what kind of content they put on Vobok, because no one willingly listens to someone shill for their product unless it's entertaining or rewarding.

Vobok has potential, but, like all emerging social networks, it needs to gain traction with users (an often tedious and slow process) and sustain the kind of quality content that keeps people coming back. I gave it a spin before the app launched, but none of the existing content was all that interesting. Creating a Vobok, though, is fun and easy--just hit record and talk at your phone. Just make sure your own recordings are as fun to listen to as they are to make.


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